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What is a Tornado?

Geography | 6-9 yrs | Animation, Video
  • Tornadoes are fierce rotating columns of air, that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cloud. These mostly occur in the United States.
  • As the warm air flows upwards, a downward air current forms, creating a thunderstorm. If a strong wind blows through the clouds, it twists the rising air currents into a whirlwind. This whirlwind spins faster and faster until it forms a tornado.
  • The wind generated by a tornado is the most powerful on the Earth, damaging almost everything that comes in its path. When a building comes in way of a tornado, the air pressure inside the building exceeds the air pressure outside. This is why many buildings which have come in way of a tornado, are known to have exploded. Most tornadoes in the United States occur in the Great Plains. In 1925, one of the fastest and largest tornadoes killed 689 people as it traveled 354 kilometers across Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.


  • Winds generated by a tornado usually spin at about 500 kilometers per hour.
  • Tornadoes move at speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour.
  • Although tornadoes generally last less than an hour, they can cause lots of damage.


  • Where has the word tornado come from?
  • Who are storm chasers?

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